Russia slows down Twitter in row over ‘illegal’ content

It threatened to block the service completely and said there were more than 3,000 posts containing ‘illegal content’

Tom Ambrose@tomambrose89
Wednesday 10 March 2021 13:32
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Twitter, like other US social media, is used widely inside Russia by allies of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny whose jailing last month prompted nationwide protests
Twitter, like other US social media, is used widely inside Russia by allies of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny whose jailing last month prompted nationwide protests

Russia has restricted the use of Twitter by slowing down its speed and threatened to block the service completely, after accusing the social media giant of repeatedly failing to remove banned content from its site.

Roskomnadzor, the country’s state communications watchdog, said there were more than 3,000 posts containing “illegal content” as of Wednesday.

Twitter, like other US social media, is used widely in Russia by allies and supporters of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, whose jailing last month led to nationwide protests.

"The slowing down will be applied on a 100 per cent of mobile devices and on 50 per cent of non-mobile devices," the regulator said in a statement on its website.

"If [Twitter] continues to ignore the requirements of the law, the enforcement measures will be continued in line with the response regulations [all the way to blocking].”

The regulator cited 2,569 cases of users inciting minors to commit suicide, 450 cases of child pornography and 149 cases of information on drug use, reported the German news outlet Deutsche Welle.

Roskomnadzor had made over 28,000 complaints to Twitter since 2017, including repeated requests to remove “illegal links and publications”.

Anton Gorelkin, a member of the Russian Duma and committee on information and media, told the Russian news agency Interfax that Facebook could be next to receive restrictions for its platform in the country.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wednesday's move comes amid mounting efforts by Moscow to exert greater influence over US social media platforms and frustrations over what authorities say is their failure to follow Russian laws.

Last December, the parliament's lower house backed big new fines on platforms that fail to delete banned content and another bill that would allow them to be restricted if they "discriminate" against Russian media.

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